I've just completed a 5.10 mile run. I ran all the way with my wife, and she was delighted with our overall pace of 9.09 minutes per mile. I was less pleased.
It's not that I mind running with her - far from it - it's just that over the last couple of months, running has become a real struggle for me. Physically, I mean... in a reversal of R. Kelly's conundrum in Bump n'Grind, the mind is telling me yes, but my body.... my body is telling me no. Runkeeper tells me that in December last year, I managed 15 runs, this in addition to a couple of swims represents a pretty reasonable effort, I think. An average week consisted of around 15-20 miles of running. In the last couple of months, I have been forced to savagely cut this back to a solitary run a week of about 3-4 miles in length.
The reason? My body just can't seem to take the strain. It started with cramping in my calves, then it was plantar fasciitis in my left foot, then a problem with my left ITB and now it seems to also include stiff hips and two sore knees after every run. I suspect that this is all caused by my tendency to "drop" the left side of my body when I get tired, and that this is having a mechanical knock-on across my body as I try to compensate. Mechanical, yes... but also likely to fundamentally be neurological in origin and related to my MS. I wish it wasn't, but I fear that it is.
I'm off to see a sports injury specialist doctor on Wednesday, and I'm hoping that he'll be able to pinpoint the physical problems and to identify a solution..... but I am also preparing myself for the news that there may ultimately be nothing he can do if the problem originates in my brain.
I'm adjusting already to the change in my exercise schedule: I'm swimming more and I've started replacing my long run every week with a cycle, but it's just not the same. Oh, I'm sure I'll adjust further and I'm certainly not going to give up running easily.... but equally I'm not an idiot, and there's only so much punishment the body can take and there might come a point where even I have to just accept that. It doesn't matter how strong my will is.
This evening's run was longer than I have attempted for some time. The pace was reasonable, albeit around 45 seconds to a minute per mile slower than I would have run it in December. It's just that it was physically really difficult from the mid-thigh down from about a mile in. My heart and lungs were fine, but pretty much everything else was telling me a different story.
I'm 39 years old now and have a few miles on the clock (Runkeeper alone has clocked up around 2100 running miles for me since November 2008). I'm pretty big for a runner and a little wear and tear on my body is probably to be expected. I don't want to blow this out of all proportion, and perhaps I'll get good news on Wednesday and everything can be back to what it was before. Maybe.
And if not? Well, I'll be sad but life moves on. Life already is moving on. I might get a new bike and find some proper hills....